Tickled Pink About My New Car

You may remember that one of my firsties wrote me a get-well card in which he told me not to worry about the wreck because he was going to ask his mom to get me a new car. And guess what?

He meant it! 
My friend Wyatt came through on his promise. 
And, since I'll be driving again in just a few weeks, he gave it to me as soon as I got back to school.

And now, without any further ado, it's time to unveil my new car

Can you see why I'm tickled pink?

I keep it parked next to our desktop computer.

Don't I have some amazing friends?

Now, if you'll excuse me, 
I'm going to test drive this little beauty.


New Friends Welcome Kit

Today I'm excited because our after-school Good News Club members put together these cool Welcome Kits for our new students.

Let's take a peek inside the blue bag:

Each new student will receive a character pencil, a pencil sharpener, some stickers, a character wristband (this one is blue for trustworthiness, our friendship pillar), a welcome note from a friend in the Good News Club, a coupon for a TCBY Kid's Cup, a star for our new friend to decorate and sign that we'll hang on the LINK {Let's Include New Kids} bulletin board, and a Westwood-Bales coloring book. 

Here are two of the pages:

I've been wanting to do a coloring book for our new students since my friend Tina from Sullivan Primary in MO told me about the one they do for theirs. Check it out - my puppets and I have a page in the coloring book. 
There's also a map of our character building.

What do you do to help make your new kids feel welcomed?


The Path That Leads To Awesome

Are you on the path that leads to awesomeness?

Would you like to be?
If you haven't already seen this pep talk, 
stop what you're doing, 
grab a snack, 
turn up the speakers, 
and prepare to let go like you have nothing to lose.
 Give your heart permission to dance along! 

Even if you have experienced it already, 
serve it up again and again and 
enJOY some leftovers for your heart and soul.

He's right, you know ... every day we get to choose. 
Which road will you travel today?


A Special Delivery

 Our mail carrier delivered the perfect card from my brother Paul yesterday. It makes me feel so special that he took the time to send me a card and it cracks me up that he signed his first and last name. 

I also love that he included an article from page 27 of the Wrightstown Area Spirit newspaper from Saturday, January 19, 2013. The headline reads:

Basically, this woman's 16-year-old son was caught driving drunk and so she's selling his truck through the classifieds for "$3500 or best offer," making her the "meanest mother in Wyoming." It made me laugh ... out loud ... 'cause not only did he connect with the story, but it seems as though Paul has found me a replacement vehicle. Too bad Wyoming is so far away. 
Such a special delivery!

Today is day 17 of my recovery; at Friday's doctor appointment I was cleared to go back to work tomorrow and try three hours a day this week. Can I hear a WooHoo? Physical therapy also starts this week to increase the range of motion in my knee. Can I hear an Owwwwiiiiieeeeee!?

Finally, it's the last Sunday of the month, and you know what that means? Head on over to Michelle's blog to read my post entitled
Peace - It's A Sign by clicking the graphic below.



Pick Flowers

Look at this AdOrAbLe Tee I saw at school.

I love flowers and this seemed like such an appropriate slogan for MLK month! 
And it goes hand-in-hand with 
The Civility Experiment.
Seek first to understand ...


Debbie Clement - Energy Extraordinaire

Students in preK through second got a booster shot of energy and enthusiasm when the talented author-illustrator-musician 
Debbie Clement came to entertain us today. WoWzA!

Click {here} for more pictures.

As you may know, I've been out of the office recovering from an automobile accident and this was just what the doctor ordered! I stopped by long enough to see how incredibly engaged our kiddos were as Debbie sang and danced her way into their hearts ... and mine! She had my firsties sing and sign her book - You're Wonderful - to me while I held the book and turned the beautifully-quilted, color-burst pages

Words can't adequately explain how emotional that was!

I had to leave after her morning performances for a doctor appointment and then a nap, but if I were a gambling girl, my money would be on those afternoon performances being every bit as 
authentically AmAzInG as the morning ones were!

Debbie was right at home cradling Papa Crow so Pillar and I posed for a picture with them in my office. And though I was meeting her for the very first time, I had the feeling I'd known Debbie for a very long time and that we'd been friends forever

Kind of weird to see myself wearing a Visitor tag.

You can experience the inspiration that is Debbie Clement at her blog - RainbowsWithinReach - or at her collaborative blog PreKandKSharing.  When you get the chance, you simply must see for yourself 
what her magic is all about.
Thank you, Debbie (and hubs Allen) 
for coming to visit us in Friendswood!


Victim or Rock Star

Do you remember that anti-drug commercial 
from years ago that went like this:  

This is your brain. 
{insert raw egg}.
This is your brain on drugs. 
{insert said egg on frying pan ... sizzle, sizzle}
Any questions?

Well, that ad campaign is on my mind today, day 14 of my recovery from that horrible collision that has kept me home from work with a lot of time to think. Here's what I came up with: 

This is me, being a victim.

My poor van. Just look at it, a total loss. And poor me. It was so scary to have to watch that XTerra headed straight for me and not be able to get out of its way and I could have died or been paralyzed. And now I have to see doctors and I'll have this scar {which is ironically in the shape of a peace sign} on my knee forever and I used to love to nap but now it hurts to even get in and out of the bed much less strike a comfortable pose so as to keep my chipped ankle elevated, my lacerated knee still, and my kinked back from spasms. And I used to be really fast and proficient at pretty much anything I set my mind to and with this wrist cast even typing is a struggle much less washing and curling my hair and getting in and out of the bathtub. And I didn't ask for any of this. And I have so much work to do but I can't go to work because I don't have a car and even if I did I can't drive for at least six weeks because of all of the injuries on my right side and the insurance wants me to sign off on a property settlement for a third of what a replacement van is going to cost .... and this is going to go on forever because there'll be a criminal case since the driver who hit me was under the influence and ... so on and so on, 
blah, blah, blah, sniff, sniff, sniff.

This is me, being a Rock Star!

I am loved and have been well taken care of by my friends and school family. I found a precious lady named Irma to come and clean the house for me and we've been blessed with so many meals that I may never have to cook again {ok, that's an exaggeration but you get the picture}! I could have been paralyzed but hey, I was able to get myself out of the car that afternoon and even find the strength to get over the guard rail on that bridge and check on the other driver before I lost consciousness. I got a free ride in the ambulance since we have a volunteer Fire Department in our town and was treated with kindness and excellent medical care by Lt. Rubio, an EMS first responder who was assigned to ride in the back with me. The ER visit only took five hours and I was back home in time for tuck-ins and I had so many wonderful phone calls telling me that prayers were coming my way and I've been able to sleep as well as can be expected and my loving husband and boys are taking such great care of me. Beautiful bouquets from WI and CT and D.C. and other places have come to my door at just the perfect time so as to interrupt any kind of pity party I might have been planning to host. Cards too numerous to count like the one above from a third-grade friend keep me comfy and at peace with the world. And don't you just love that I was driving a Honda whose crumple zone, seat belt and air bag did their job so perfectly? Who knows? I may be released to return to work soon, and my friends and family are better medicine than any prescription that my doctors could write. Rock on!

My purple cast, my air boot, my swollen knee
and all the comforts from my caring peeps!
"You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. " ~Mr. Rogers
Any questions?


Peace, Love, and Character

Today I am over-the-moon ecstatic because I just found out  that my friends at North Pointe Elementary in a neighboring district has earned the distinction of Texas State School of Character - YAY!

Using the barter system, I led a workshop in exchange for this T-shirt!

Don't you just {puffy heart squish} LOVE their logo?  

Their journey began several years ago when their principal and their counselor attended our NSOC Open House to learn more about the Character Education Partnership (CEP). They already had some great stuff going on, but they wanted to intensify their character education efforts. They left that day determined to put together a Character Cadre to take their program deeper, and that's what they did. As a team, they worked together to intentionally integrate values into their daily habits and routines. They started to weave character into the DNA of their school culture. That October, their counselor (and my friend!) Jennifer traveled to San Francisco to the CEP Forum with me to learn more. Last year, they invited me to do a workshop on how to run a class meeting, and Jennifer brought her Assistant Principal to our school another time this Fall. Earlier this month, I went back again to kick off their second semester with a booster shot of positivity and motivation. Even though they're already doing so many amazing things, they still strive to make their character building better! Every day. 

Set one foot on the North Pointe Elementary campus and you'll know in an instant that they're living the virtues that they espouse; that's why they were selected an SSOC. 

I am so proud of Jennifer for leading the way and of this incredible faculty and staff for setting the bar so high and then going the extra distance to achieve this goal. Please join me in applauding,  congratulating, and celebrating with this fantastic school family.


Would You Rather?

Day 9 of my recovery from that frightening head-on collision last Thursday, and I've been thinking about the game Would You Rather? a lot this week. 

Would you rather eat chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
Would you rather go to the beach or a museum?
Would you rather power walk or run?
Would you rather have a root canal or whiplash?

It's a funny question, that last one, because until this whiplash that I'm fighting through with every ounce of my being, I thought that that root canal I had in August was pretty painful. I didn't want to have that procedure in the first place, but I also didn't like the sound of the word abscessed either, so I went. I knew I was in trouble when I heard the words Uh-oh from the chair. And was it a coincidence or some sort of sign when the song 
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger 
played through the speakers overhead? I guess it's all about perspective. If only people wouldn't say things like I'd rather have a root canal, the root canal may not have been so bad. Or maybe I'm just a wimp. That might be it. I'd had several follow-up visits after the root canal and the dentist finally told me to please not come back unless it still hurts at Christmas. Really? Give it four months? Now I understand why people use the root canal as a benchmark for pain!

Would you rather have a puppy or a kitty?
Would you rather stay home or travel during spring break?
Would you rather listen to jazz or rock?
Would you rather use crutches or a wheel chair?

And guess what? It was still hurting a little bit at Christmas so I was going to inquire about it when I took Joshua in last Thursday, that appointment I never made it to because I was rerouted by the crash. Sometimes life takes you on a big detour ... recalculating ...  And since then, I've hardly felt that tooth. At all. Isn't that weird? My focus has shifted and the pain elsewhere is so. much. worse. It's funny how quickly one's perspective can change.

Would you rather watch a mystery or a comedy?
Would you rather read or write?
Would you rather eat at home or at a restaurant?
Would you rather get an e-card or a homemade one?

I'm going with homemade on that last question. This card that Eva made for me is just one of probably five hundred that I've received and enJOYed immensely this week. Her inscription? 
Kindness doesn't grow on trees and 
that's why you are here to help us learn.
What a great job description, a kindness teacher. One little friend asked when I was coming back so she could come to peace class again. Don't you love that? Another student told me not to worry because he was going to ask his mom to get me a new car. Still another asked me to please, please come back soon because my puppets missed me, and so does everybody at Westwood.

As you can imagine, I'd rather be at school than at home, but for now I'm resting so that my bruised body and broken bones can heal. The doctor says I might be released to go back with restrictions at the end of the month. Until then, thanks for your words of encouragement, kind affirmations, prayers and love, all of which are helping me beyond measure.

Relatively speaking, that root canal wasn't all that bad .....


The Struggle For Self-Care Guest Post

Today I'm grateful for  School Counseling Professer Dr. Erin Mason's visit to the Corner because she's here to help us with a non-negotiable: Self-care. Welcome, Erin!

Source:  Google  images
The Struggle for Self-Care: A Confession by Erin Mason, Ph.D.

Guilty as charged. I’m not good at self-care. One of the ironies of being a school counselor, or a professor of school counseling, is that we often emphasize to others the need for regular self-care. I, like so many, have good intentions about self-care but contribute to “the glorification of busy.”

My particular form of glorification comes from feeling a sense of self worth by being accomplished, scheduled and involved. People often ask me, “How do you do all that you are doing?” I never know how to reply to this and I often stumble with an answer. My “busy” as a school counselor was different from my “busy” as a counselor educator but the “busy-ness” factor was and is there nonetheless. I got, and still get, a lot of positive reinforcement for being “busy” because it is wrapped up in my professional passion, commitment and natural gravitation to things that require leadership and advocacy.

Let me lay down a little truth here for those of you on the front lines. As a school counselor a lot of my “busy” went towards worrying about my students; the constant possibility of dealing with abuse, neglect, suicide, sexual assault, loss, trauma. This, all in addition of course, to trying to educate and promote my role and my program in schools and to colleagues who didn’t always, “get it.” I held a great sense of responsibility for doing the “right thing,” an important characteristic for a school counselor that so many of us have. However, this characteristic can easily morph into a sort of “savior syndrome” that can undo you as a school counselor when you are not paying attention. When I was in this “savior” place and attending less to self-care, my anxiety could be all-consuming, paralyzing even. Sometimes my health would suffer and I would have raging headaches, lose or gain weight, and have difficulty sleeping; it was real and it was a major self-care issue. I can remember ruminating so much about one student in particular that I called his teacher (thank goodness we had a strong working relationship) at 3 o’clock in the morning to review the crisis that had happened that day and make sure she thought I had covered all the bases. This anxiety stuff in our field is no joke and if you are reading this and relating, do yourself a favor, check your self-care and get some help.

Whether it is “busy-ness” of mind or “busy-ness” of calendar, these are some of the things that I have come to rely on to bring me back to a place where I can attend to self-care at much needed times:

1.     Permission to enjoy work and working hard: Our society sends us so many conflicting messages about what it is we are supposed to do and who we are supposed to be. Most of the work I do, I thoroughly enjoy. So even though I could stand to slow down and say “no” more often, I’ve come to accept that enjoying what I get out of being career-driven is okay for me as long as I don’t “glorify” it or let it isolate me from the world.

2.     Personal Counseling: Yes, we should do it. I haven’t in a while and I should get back to it. Things are clearer when I attend to my own issues and I know it makes me better at being a model for my students.

3.     Get outside: Physically removing myself helps me to gain perspective when I’m experiencing negativity, confusion or anxiety. Sometimes getting outside is just literally stepping out of the building for a few minutes or it is going for a walk, sitting in the sun or focusing on nature.

4.     Take time out during the day: This happens in different ways for different people. Your time out should be what works for you. One of mine, I confess, is napping. I love naps, I find them restorative because during a nap I’m turning my brain and my body off.

5.     When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron or pretty much anything by Pema Chodron. I have found great solace in the words, practices and traditions of Buddhism even though I don’t identify as a Buddhist.

Of course eating healthy, exercising and sleeping regularly, and being with friends or family who value you are other strategies that most of us know already.

Ultimately my struggle, and that of so many of us, comes down to finding balance. Self-care then, I think is a goal, an aspiration, not something I’m sure I’ll ever achieve as a final endpoint. And I’m okay with that. I’ll be working on it all of my life. And so will most of us as we struggle to interpret and address the demands of our work, the messages of our society, and the needs of our world. 

Author bio: Erin Mason is an assistant professor in the Counseling program at DePaul University. Prior to joining the faculty in 2008, Erin was a Professional School Counselor in Georgia for 13 years. Erin worked in several middle schools in urban, suburban and rural settings, including the two largest districts in the state.
Erin is active in professional School Counseling organizations and legislative work at both state and national levels. She has published in scholarly journals with a focus on the professional identity of school counselors. Erin engages in collaborative work with various organizations and schools to create positive change for students and their academic, career and personal/social needs. Erin is a regular presenter in her field and serves as the 2012-2013 president of the Illinois School Counseling Association.


Day Maker Calls

I wrote an article for the Character Educator about 
my one little word - gratitude - last week 
the day before that head-on collision; 
click the graphic to read my musings 
that posted the day after the wreck and I think you'll agree that 
the whole thing is pretty ironic.

For the record, I placed two day-maker phone calls about 
twenty minutes before the incident that's now giving teeth to my one little word and the thoughts about it in that post.
In all things ...


A Winner and An Inconvenience

First things first - we have a winner of Maria's new book The Potato Chip Champ. Congratulations to Julie from First Grade Critter Cafe. Thanks to all of you who played along. I hope that you'll all add this title to your collection to help your littlest learners learn that Kindness Counts!

Secondly, today I've got some sad news with a few silver linings. On my way to the Junior High the other day to meet with the counselors about our upcoming 8th-grade parent meetings and then pick Joshua up a bit early for a dentist appointment, I was hit head-on by an oncoming Nissan Xterra and whisked away in an ambulance to the hospital for x-rays and treatment. I came away with a fractured radius in my wrist, twelve stitches in my right knee, and an air soft cast on the right ankle because the x-ray was inconclusive due to swelling. Today it hurts with every move I make and every breath I take. The good news? I survived a head-on car crash and I'm here to talk about it. The driver who hit me, well, she was on her way to pick up her daughter from school so that potential problem was avoided. And since I was still on the clock at work, we may have some help coming through a workman's comp claim. 

Some second graders made me a card collage!
So much to be grateful for! Thanks goes to the first responders, the lady who called 9-1-1 for me, the three women on the scene who laid me down onto the street when they saw that I was losing consciousness, the EMT who rode along with me to the ER, and the compassionate and competent  staff at St. John's hospital. Ed, our shift-change nurse, was especially funny and helped put me at ease. I was home in time for tuck-in time and slept okay despite the bruising and burns from a high-impact collision. My family at home has been wonderful about helping out, I've had so many prayers and warm wishes sent my way, many school family friends came by to visit and bring get-well cards from the kids, and my friends have brought meals to get us through the weekend. We are abundantly blessed! Here is what our daughter posted on her FB status - so proud of her.

My mom was hit by a drunk driver head-on today at 3:30 this afternoon. Although she's really banged up with two broken bones and 12 stitches, she's alive. Our van was totaled. I can't even adequately express how happy and thankful I am that she is ok. God has really blessed our family. It still infuriates me that people continue to drink and drive. If you're drinking and need to get somewhere, pass your keys to someone else. Always plan ahead and be smart. Don't be the cause of another person's injury.

So this is a minor major inconvenience, for sure, no van to drive because it's probably totalled. We'll have get to go car shopping once I'm getting along pain-free. I've got a cane to help me walk. I know that this case could drag on for awhile, but for now I'm choosing to be grateful that it wasn't worse. I am alive and life is good. I may not be blogging for a bit, but feel free to check in periodically to see if I'm back in the swing of things. I am grateful for you.


PPBF: Song for Papa Crow

Another Friday, another PPBF. Today's pick is a lesson in singing your own song - literally!

Title: Song for Papa Crow
Author and Illustrator: Marit Menzin
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: July 28, 2012
Suitable for ages: 4 - 7 (and up!)

Brief synopsis: Little Crow loves to sing, but the other birds don't like his song one bit; if only he could mimic the other birds like the Mockingbird does. A special seed from Mockingbird helps Little Crow sing as pretty as the songbirds, but what will happen when Little Crow finds himself in danger and is no longer able to sing his own song to alert his Father? 
Opening page:  

Little Crow loved to sing. 
He sang all the time, everywhere he went. 
"Caw! Caw! Caw!" 
he croaked.
The singing birds did not love to hear Little Crow sing.
Not any time. Not anywhere.
Whenever Little Crow joined them in the big old maple tree, 
he saw them leave, one by one.

Read a book review from Cozy Little Book Journal blog {here}
Read an interview with the author/illustrator {here}
Teach your songbirds this little song; click {here} to download:

Why I like this book: 

Sing your own song, what a beautifully lyrical message in this fun treasure trove from this new author. The illustrations enhance the text and engage me in a way that I haven't experienced in a long time. They are brilliant! I also love the bird information page about the North America birds that are featured in the book. Students can compare and contrast the crow with their favorite songbird. The book is also chunk full of onomatopoeia.

Application:  I got a Papa Crow and Little Crow puppet duo as a gift from my friend Kirsten in the mail last week so I used them in guidance this week. As I greeted my kindies at the door, one of them asked, "Is that a crow or a grackle?" I explained that it was a Crow and he added that "yeah, he's much too big to be a grackle." I just love my littlest learners! Anyway, the two birds are playing hide and seek, and Papa Crow needs our help.  He is it but can't find Little Crow. When I ask if we can play, Papa Crow will tell me "no" and explains that we can't play with them because we're not black birds .... birds of a feather flock together after all, right? So he's stuck, really, because he needs our help but he can't won't let us play. We explain that it's not fair that we can't play and that we're really good hide and seekers even if we aren't exactly like them. This results in a riveting reflection - Do I have to be just like you to play with you?about being friends with one another and getting along regardless of size, skin color, or race. Such a powerful diversity lesson as told by a black bird and its baby.

This also makes me think about other bird references I've heard:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
I know why the caged bird sings.
The early bird gets the worm.
Birds sing after the storm.
I have a bird's eye view.
That's for the birds.

After a discussion about what these expressions and idioms mean, let students illustrate the one that speaks to them. 

Here's a Blue Jay that our son Joshua drew in fourth grade.

Or have your students pick their favorite songbird from the page in
 the back of the book and draw a picture of it for a 
Sing Your Own Song visual display.


Mission Possible

Today I'm excited because my husband came to school yesterday to talk with our fifth graders about Mars and help prepare them for their Mars Rover competition. Every time I see him present, I think he missed his calling as a teacher.

He is so good at the outreach part of his job because he's so passionate about space exploration. He would answer their questions with questions and thoughtful explanations. It was fun to watch.

On another note, our semester-break time with our college girl is almost up. In a way it seems like we just got her back. This break has been so different for us and her. When we got to Austin on that damp December night, we loaded her stuff into the car, took her to dinner, then dropped her off at the arena so that she could play her clarinet with the basketball band at the women's game before we headed home for the holidays. When we arrived at the front door and she was about to get out of the van, I heard myself say, 
"Be careful crossing the street!" 
Kind of silly, really, telling my nineteen-year-old daughter to be careful crossing a street she's likely crossed countless times on campus this past year and a half without me and my words of wisdom. But once a mom, always a mom, right? Obviously she got there fine, and we got our car parked and our tickets purchased. Here's a clip of some of the tunes they played the game; 
how much FUN are those college kids having?

And, because she's in a marching band, she stayed in Texas for the Alamo Bowl and wasn't able to travel with us on our family vacation. We had to keep remembering that she's not our little girl anymore, that she's an independent young lady who's thriving on her own. That's what we wanted, right? But still, it's been a big change for us, for me. She's ready to launch again, so I have to be ready to see her off. I mean, it's not like we're sending her to Mars, just to Austin. Mission possible, right? 
Now where are those tissues .... 

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